Getting older: Since you can’t beat it, you might as well enjoy it, right? But while most age-related changes are certainly worth embracing — like having more grandkids to spoil and rocking a new gray ‘do — other indicators can pop up earlier than they should (if at all).

Here are 5 signs that might suggest you’re aging prematurely:

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1. You’re easily thrown off-balance.

Good balance makes you less prone to serious falls — which are the number-one cause of fatal injuries in people over 65, according to HealthinAging.org, the American Geriatrics Association’s consumer site.

Bad balance, on the other hand, may stem from a wide variety of health issues, ranging from dehydration and low blood pressure to inner ear disorders and Parkinson’s disease. While you likely just need to work on your core strength, you should talk to your doctor if you’re still having trouble staying steady.

2. Your walking pace has slowed way down.

How fast you walk in old age is actually tied to your average life expectancy: Those who walk 1 meter per second (about 2.25 mph) or faster live longer than those who walk more slowly, according to research published in JAMA. In fact, the study found that older adults with gait speeds slower than o.6 meters per second were shown to have an increased risk of early mortality.

“Walking requires energy, movement control, and support, and places demands on multiple organ systems, including the heart, lungs, circulatory, nervous, and musculoskeletal systems,” the authors explained. “Slowing gait may reflect both damaged systems and a high-energy cost of walking.”

You don’t need to be a speed-walker, but health experts at Tufts say most healthy adults should at least be able to walk 2.7 miles per hour. If you feel like you’ve been lagging behind, remember that practice makes perfect: Walking more often — and doing some lower-body resistance moves to build up strength — should help you pick up the pace.

3. Opening jars is a lot harder than it used to be.

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The occasional battle against a pickle jar is no biggie, but those who consistently struggle to open a tightly-closed lid or pick up a heavy suitcase tend not to live as long as those with a stronger grip, according to research published in the BMJ.

“Fitness status is more closely aligned with mortality risk than high blood pressure, and one very important component of fitness is grip strength,” says integrative health expert and board-certified ob-gyn Felice Gersh, MD. Therefore, a weak grip is correlated with overall body weakness.

Simple activities like squeezing a stress ball, washing your car by hand, or carrying grocery bags can help you improve your grip strength.

4. Your skin is always parched.

Chronic dry skin is an often overlooked sign of aging — and it can make other, more obvious signs (like wrinkles) more prominent.

“The skin naturally has a slightly acidic pH, which is necessary to ensure proper functioning of enzymes involved in hydration and exfoliation,” says Joshua Zeichner, MD, director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. “With age, the skin cannot always maintain an adequate pH, contributing to dryness and loss of radiance.”

Want to get your glow back? Dr. Zeichner recommends using an exfoliating facial cleanse and body wash. And don’t forget the SPF: “Sunscreen has been shown not only to reduce the risk of developing skin cancer but also to prevent premature skin aging,” says Dr. Zeichner.

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5. You wake up at weird times.

Even if you’re logging enough total sleep time, waking up at odd hours — like 2:00, 3:00, or 4:00 AM — could mean you have a circadian rhythm disorder, which is associated with premature aging, says Dr. Gersh. That’s also most likely to be the case if you’re dozing off much earlier than you used to in the evening.

“To get your body clock back in sync, use a light box for 15 minutes at 8:00 PM,” says Dr. Gersh. This should help push back your clock settings by 3 hours, so you’ll go to bed later and wake up at a more reasonable hour.

https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/health/a26342191/aging-quickly-warning-signs/

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